The Church in the Public
A Politics of Engagement for a Cruel and Indifferent Age
- ISBN: 9781506467962
- Published By: Fortress Press
- Published: July 2022
How should the church relate to the public sphere? The body politic? The state? The economic order? The natural world? For too many Christians and churches, being "in the world but not of it" has resulted in either a theocratic impulse to seize the reins of secular power or a quietistic retreat from the world and its material concerns. The Church in the Public shows how this dualism has corrupted the church's social witness and allowed neoliberal and neocolonial ideas to assert control of public and political life.
Dualism has rendered the church not only indifferent to but also complicitous with the state's bio- and power-politics. Because of this outdated framework of the church's political theology, the church has been reluctant to engage in challenging structural and systemic injustice in this world. But rather than counseling despair or making a case for Christendom, Ilsup Ahn argues for a public church, one that collaborates and cooperates with other public actors and entities in the promotion of a just social order.
The book traces this "third way" back to the apostolic age and offers practical approaches for enacting it today. Central to this vision is the analogy of the rhizome--that strange, unique form of life that lives underground, grows horizontally, and is capable of regeneration. The Church in the Public draws on this image to develop a political theology for engaging the world, identifying with the oppressed, and binding up the broken.